The Worst Place to be a Woman

Liberian women rise up and elect their first female president. The author of this piece hopes that, if Liberian women can do it, the women of Bukava will be next on the road to liberation.

In Liberia, when their sons were kidnapped and drugged to fight for rebel factions, and when their husbands came home from brothels and infected them with H.I.V., and when government soldiers invaded their houses and raped them in front of their teenage sons, these were the women who picked themselves up and kept going. They kept selling fish, cassava and kola nuts so they could feed their families. They gave birth to the children of their rapists in the forests and carried the children on their backs as they balanced jugs of water on their heads.

These are the women who went to the polls in Liberia last week. They ignored the threats of the young men who vowed more war if their chosen presidential candidate, a former soccer player named George Weah, didn’t win. “No Weah, no peace,” the boys yelled, chanting in the streets and around the polling stations.

The women in Liberia, by and large, ignored those boys and made Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is 67, the first woman to be elected to lead an African country.

That’s bravery. Read the whole article.

Posted in Politics | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Sex Ed for the Stroller Set

When is it appropriate to start teaching kids about sex? At the same time you teach them about the rest of their bodies.

This makes a lot of sense to me. As long as you’re giving young children the vocabulary for “toes” and “hands” and “nose,” why not give them the vocabulary for “vulva” and “penis” as well? I’m sure someone out there will find this controversial, and will argue that kids should be raised thinking the only thing below their belly button is their feet. And I’m sure someone will argue that it’s “sexualizing” children to teach them about their own body parts. But that simply doesn’t make sense.

Yes, it seems odd at first to tell a two-year-old what a vulva is. But why is it harder to use the word “vulva” than “peepee”? And what, really, is so terrible about explaining intercourse and how babies are made if kids are curious? If you’ve ever spent time around young children, you know that they get lots of things explained to them, because they’re just starting to figure out the world — tossing intercourse in there as one more thing they learn doesn’t seem like it would be harmful, and it certainly wouldn’t encourage any sort of sexual behavior among four-year-olds (or at least, any sexual behavior that young children don’t already naturally engage in).

Posted in Sex | Tagged , , , , | 15 Comments

Nerve Reproductive Rights Issue

Is out. And it’s a must-read. A run-down:

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Posted in Recommended, Reproductive Rights | Tagged , | 32 Comments

Odds and Ends

I don’t follow football, but I did enjoy the way Wonkette operative Eric Pfeiffer put it:

Things just keep getting worse for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Terrell Owens. First, he manages to get booted for the season – something his colleagues accused of murder, drug use and rape have failed to accomplish.

Boy would I be mad if I went to Lynn University (where?) of Boca Raton, Florida. Students there paid their university president more than $5 million last year. Five other university presidents cracked the $1 million mark. Now, university presidents deserve to be paid well — but more than a million dollars? Among doctoral and research universities, NYU’s own John Sexton is the sixth-highest-paid president, bringing in almost $900,000 a year. The average president of a doctoral/research institution makes about half that. Only 14 college/university presidents make more than $800,000 annually. Now, I like Sexton — he did great things for the law school, and I think he’s good for the university — but it does seem funny that he accepts one of the highest salaries of all university presidents, and then digs in his heels when it comes to paying adjunct faculty fairly and recognizing graduate student unions so that they can bargain for better wages and benefits. I’ll also throw it out there that NYU is one of the worst schools in the country when it comes to financial aid, and every year they raise our tution well above the rate of inflation. But hey, as long as Sexton is gettin’ his…

I *heart* Jennifer Baumgardner. I had the distinct pleasure of meeting her last spring, I’ve read all her books, and she is amazing. While I try not to attach myself to a single feminist thinker, I would say that Baumgardner’s version of feminism is the most similar to mine. So check out her latest article, where she takes on Ariel Levy’s “Female Chauvinist Pigs.”

While Dowd’s book has some feminists of my acquaintance furious (“I don’t recognize the world she is describing at all,” a 35-year-old editor at the Washington Post told me), Levy’s is more dangerous. Intentional or not, Levy contributes to that mean finger, pointed only at girls, that says “You think you are being sexy, you think you’re cool and powerful, but you’re not. You’re a slut and people are making fun of you.”

Feminism has given me a powerful lens with which to view the world. What I needed as a young woman, and what I think women need now, are not more critics shaking their fingers, but more models and examples of the free, powerful sexuality that Levy says she advocates.

Read the whole thing.

Posted in Education, Feminism, General | Tagged | 13 Comments

Marriage Equality, For Better or Worse

Won’t allow gender-neutral marriage? Fine, then let’s give everyone committment ceremonies. Good for this Arlington pastor.

Posted in Gender, GLBTQ, Religion | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Carnival of Feminists 3

Is now up. And it’s great, so go check it out!

Posted in Blogging, Feminism | Tagged , | 2 Comments


Probably spelled that wrong. But let me just throw it out there that I’m 95% sure I saw Jessica Cutler of Washintonienne fame on 7th between A and B tonight. Walking alone, without a man accompanying her and/or paying her rent. I could be wrong. But like I said… 95%. Woah.

Posted in Blogging, Celebrity | Tagged | 9 Comments


A quiz to brighten the dullest of days.
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Posted in General | 29 Comments

Equal-Opportunity Crappy Dating Advice

It seems like every feminist blogger has written, at some point, about the crappy dating advice that comes by way of Cosmo and Glamour and whatever other “women’s” publication helps us out by claiming that you too can attract every man you want if you just follow these 10 simple steps. There are a million reasons to be irritated by such advice — it assumes men all think the same way, it assumes all women are only interested in men, it assumes men can basically be tricked into liking a woman if she tosses her head the right way, and it generally encourages women to behave deferentially and to lie about how they really feel. Not good. But via Wonkette, now those “nice guys” who get NewsMax in their email boxes get to deal with the same shit we do. Only with way more unnecessary capitalization, and over-use of the phrase, “Don’t be a WUSSIE!”. Full text after the jump.
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Posted in Gender | Tagged , , | 74 Comments

FDA Bent the Rules on Plan B

How surprising. The GAO report is here (pdf). William Saleton sums it up pretty simply:

A government investigation says the FDA bent its rules to block over-the-counter sales of the morning-after pill. The GAO report indicates 1) senior officials decided to reject such sales long before their scientific assessment was finished; 2) in so doing, they overruled the agency’s internal and external science advisers on an over-the-counter sales question for the first time in 10 years; and 3) they justified the rejection by invoking an age distinction they had ignored in previous cases.

But nah, they aren’t playing politics. They’re protecting us.

Posted in Politics, Reproductive Rights | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

Speak Out Against Sauerbrey

Cronyism 2.0. BOPnews has the details.

Posted in Politics | Tagged | 1 Comment

Abortion on TV

Thirty-three years ago this week, Bea Arthur as Maude had a fictitious abortion on her show. Now, abortion is as hidden on television as it was before Roe v. Wade.

The word “abortion” isn’t used. Characters who discover they are unintentionally pregnant don’t even consider abortion. Abortion is shamed by its omission, and isn’t considered a valid option for virtuous characters (or even non-virtuous ones, like Gabrielle on Desperate Housewives). Rebecca Raber writes:

Regardless of your personal feelings about abortion, the fact is that millions of women have them. The Alan Guttmacher Institute estimates that in 2001 (the last year for which statistics are available) more than 1.3 million pregnancies were terminated in the United States. But where are these women’s stories on television? Where is their voice? The answer is: on premium cable.

Six Feet Under’s Claire had an abortion without regret, headache, or the requisite moral punishment that seems to come with abortion on other shows. Sex & the City’s Carrie and Samantha both say they’ve had abortions, and both make it clear that they have no regrets; when Miranda is unexpectedly pregnant, she considers it as an option. Without being bound to advertisers, channels like HBO can image real-life decisions in a realistic, and more complex, way.

Not surprisingly, the only time abortion makes a regular appearance on the major networks is when it is discussed as an “idea.” The fictional political candidates on shows like The West Wing freely discuss their views (though their recent live presidential debate eschewed the topic altogether since both candidates on this liberal fantasy show are pro-choice). You will be hard-pressed, however, to find an episode where C.J. or one of the president’s daughters admits to actually having an abortion herself. In this way, writers can feel brave for delving into a taboo subject without having to stand behind their political convictions. The implication is that talking about and debating over abortion is OK, having one is not.

This, despite the fact that abortion has been available for more than three decades, and is a choice that millions of women select — or at the very least, that they think about.

Real women have had decades of hard-won reproductive freedom in this country, but their televised doppelg do not have the same options. Why aren’t our real-world choices reflected in our pop culture landscape? If the networks can show violence against women and teen sex and rape (shows like Law and Order: SVU are propagated entirely on those topics), why can’t we see the outcomes of those actions? Abortion is not a dirty word, nor is it simply a political topic. It deserves a place on TV, and not just on C-SPAN.

Read the whole essay.

Posted in Entertainment, Reproductive Rights | Tagged , | 71 Comments